When the war broke out I was five. I well remember the day; it was a sunny day and I was playing in the garden when they called me into the house to tell me. In our household there was my father, who was a lawyer, my mother, a lady called Marga who looked after us younger children, a cook and my brother and sisters. At that stage my parents had four children - later during the war in 1942 a fifth was born. Like all mothers with four or more children my mother was awarded a medal called the Mutterkreuz.
In 1940 we three older children were evacuated for the first time to relations, because air raids started to bring danger to big cities like Hamburg. In 1942 my parents found what they thought was the ideal family for me. They lived in Pomerania [Poland] on a big country estate and wanted a playmate for their youngest daughter Meike. The world I met in Pomerania was completely different, and has since gone forever, at least in Europe. This patriarchal feudal system was practiced in the finest way, being based on firm Christian principles. The people in the village worked happily for the Landlord and they knew their place and accepted it. The Landlord and Landlady on their part felt responsible for them. They looked after them and regarded them as an extended part of their family.
It became clear however after a few months that Meike and I did not match. The mother, who was very nice, wrote a touching but serious letter to my mother about our diverging interests and inner developments, and my mother wrote back that she would try to find another family for after the summer holidays.
I returned to Hamburg, just in time for the terrible fire-storm that would destroy the city. To read about that just click here.
Geseke (seen here with three of her grandchildren) now lives in Warwick in England. She is a member of the TIMEWITNESSES Panel of Elders.